Mumbai recorded 216 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths on Tuesday. The city’s tally has now touched 1,756 and the death toll stands at 112 — both figures the highest in the country.
Nine of the 11 victims on Tuesday had co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart disease and obesity. Among them, a 52-year-old man had a history of tuberculosis while a 65-year-old woman had active tuberculosis.
While co-morbid conditions have been a common thread among COVID-19 fatalities in the city, the rapidly increasing death toll has become a cause for concern. Mumbai alone contributes nearly 62% of the deaths in Maharashtra. This has led the State government to form a seven-member committee to look into the high death rate in the city.
A 37-year-old man who has recovered from COVID-19 was the first to donate his blood at the civic-run Nair Hospital, which plans to start a trial on convalescent plasma therapy. Plasma from the donated blood will be separated and used to treat patients.
“Plasma is rich in antibodies. The patient who has recovered from the disease will have antibodies developed and those may be useful in the treatment of patients,” said Ramesh Bharmal, dean of Nair Hospital, adding that people who had recovered about a month ago would be chosen as donors as it takes time for the antibodies to develop.
Infectious disease specialist Om Shrivastav is the principal investigator of the study. While approvals from the Drug Controller General of India and the Indian Council of Medical Research are still under way, doctors have begun the collection process. Plasma collected from four to five donors is needed for transfusion in one COVID-19 patient.
In the absence of antiviral drugs to target SARS-CoV-2, medical experts in various countries have started similar trials on convalescent plasma transfusion. In India, Kerala has also sought permission to start the trial.
10 Bhatia nurses positive
Meanwhile, 10 more nurses from Bhatia Hospital tested positive on Tuesday, taking the count of infected healthcare workers in the hospital to 35. Besides, a junior radiologist from Bombay Hospital has tested positive.
The source of infection to the Bombay Hospital radiologist is still unclear. Civic officials said he was completely asymptomatic. He lives in the doctor’s quarters nearby and all his contacts have now been quarantined.
At the Asian Cancer Institute where two doctors and two nurses had tested positive, one of the doctors, who also practises in Govandi, is believed to be the source of infection. He is on oxygen support and is gradually recovering. Eight of his family members have also tested positive and are admitted to three different hospitals.
Officials said a woman with travel history to Ahmedabad had consulted him. She later tested positive and died at Sion Hospital.